This Week’s Top 10: Bosch jumps into the EV battery race, LAX allowing ridesharing

by Jon LeSage, editor and publisher, Green Auto Market

Here’s my take on the 10 most significant and interesting occurrences during the past week…….

  1. Bosch logoWho will lead EV battery market?: The race is on to be the leader in advanced batteries for plug in electric vehicles with auto parts giant Robert Bosch buying California-based Seeo Inc., which is developing lithium-ion batteries that could double the range of electric vehicles (EVs). While EV and hybrid sales have been softening this year, the consensus seems to be that lithium batteries will be increasing in demand for EVs and energy storage. Seeo is a solid-state battery developer of next-generation energy storage, and the acquisition includes all of the company’s IP and research staff. “For now, solid-state batteries are the best positioned to take that crown, but other families like lithium-sulfur, high-voltage cathodes, and alternative ions are worth watching, too,” said Lux Research Senior Analyst, Cosmin Laslau. It’s not surprising to see a Tier One supplier in the auto industry enter the lithium battery space. Tesla Motors and Panasonic are preparing to lead the way in volume at the Gigafactory in Nevada; with Tesla investing in the energy storage market, as well. Nissan is half owner of battery maker AESC, and LG Chem is doing lithium-ion battery business with several major automakers.
  2. Ridesharing sees breakthrough: It’s taken a little while, but ridesharing/ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft have been granted permission to pick up passengers at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), one of the largest airports in the U.S. The taxi industry had spent a lot of money attempting to defeat it, and there’s been intense debate about whether drivers are being given enough background checks for passenger safety. City officials will continue researching whether more extensive background checks will be required, including fingerprinting.
  3. Enterprise carsharing taking off in Boston: Enterprise Rent-A-Car has seen huge growth in carsharing users through its Boston Enterprise CarShare fleet. Since acquiring Mint Cars On-Demand and building its presence in the market, Enterprise has seen membership grow more than 300% in the city. Enterprise CarShare now has a retail presence in Chicago, Philadelphia, New York City, Toronto, and Washington, D.C., and other markets. In total, the service is available in more than 35 U.S. states, Canada and the U.K – and offered through more than 100 university campuses and hundreds of business and government accounts across the country.
  4. Alt-fuel vehicle conversions have a strong week: Anheuser-Busch is converting all 97 of its diesel-fueled tractors throughout the Midwest to compressed natural gas in an effort to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The company first converted 66 diesel trucks at its Houston brewery last year…… General Distributors Inc. reported that since switching 10 cargo vans from gasoline to propane autogas, the beverage distributor has cut greenhouse gas emissions 20% and saved about $10,000 in fuel costs……. amp Trillium has opened of a new public-access compressed natural gas station in Newport, TN. The station can also fuel multiple Class-8 trucks simultaneously with Trillium CNG’s proprietary fast-fill hydraulic intensifier compressors, which efficiently pump seven-to-12 gallons of CNG fuel per minute, similar to diesel fueling rates……. Clean vehicle and fuel provider Alliance AutoGas has received new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certifications covering the following vehicles: Ford Taurus Interceptor 3.5L (2015, 2014, 2013), Ford Explorer Interceptor 3.5L and 3.7L (2016, 2015, 2014, 2013), Dodge Charger 3.6L (2015) and Dodge Charger 5.7 HEMI (2015, 2014, 2013).  Specifically of interest to U.S. law enforcement fleets are the certifications of the Explorer Police Interceptor, Taurus Police Interceptor, and Charger Pursuit.
  5. Tesla scores big with Consumer Reports: Tesla Motors just received another strong review from Consumer Reports, earning a 103 on a 100-point scale for its Model S P85D, setting what the magazine staff calls a new standard for perfection. The team testing out the “insane mode” that can go from zero to 60 in 3.5 seconds. In other news, Tesla Motors has been drawing complaints in California from dealers on discounts offered to Tesla buyers for making referrals. A letter from the California New Car Dealers Association argues that the program is illegal under a state law that bans compensation of people who arrange sales without a license – a practice known in the car business as “bird dogging.” Tesla is offering current owners $1,000 off their purchase price and will also receive a $1,000 discount that can be applied to a new Tesla car purchase in the future, a service center visit, or accessories.
  6. Award winners announced at Fleet Technology Expo: At the first-ever (former Green Fleet Conference) Fleet Technology Expo last week in Long Beach, Calif., six fleet managers took awards for sustainability and efficiency categories for Light & Medium Duty Fleets. During the Fleet Technology Expo’s Light & Medium Duty Fleet awards winners of the sustainability category are Alameda County, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), and the Eugene (Ore.) Water and Electric Board. DISH, NPL Construction, and Osram Sylvania took home top honors in the efficiency category. For HDT (heavy-duty truck) fleets, Con-way Freight, Toyota, and Celadon Trucking Services won awards for HDT Efficiency. Republic Services, Raven Transport, and Ryder System received the awards for HDT Sustainability.
  7. Wheego staying quiet for now: Small electric car manufacturer Wheego Electric Cars has put production of electric vehicles on hold for now, and will no longer build the Whip or LiFe. “We are not making the Whip or LiFe any more, but still support and service the cars. We are working on two new models which will first be introduced in China, followed a few years later by introduction to the U.S. market.”
  8. New president at EDTA: The Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA) Board of Directors appointed Genevieve Cullen to the position of President. Cullen previously served as EDTA Vice President, developing and leading the organization’s policy program. “As the electric drive market enters an exciting new phase, we are fortunate to have a leader with Genevieve Cullen’s outstanding record and unique understanding of the industry to advance EDTA’s mission,” said Tracy Woodard, the chair of EDTA’s Board of Directors.
  9. 2K vehicles in voucher program: The California Air Resources Board, elected officials and industry last week celebrated the 2,000th Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher, awarded to Redwood Products of Chino, a small business that invested in a clean, low-carbon hybrid delivery truck. Since its launch in 2010, the Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project (HVIP) has provided more than $63 million to help California fleets statewide purchase more than 430 zero-emission trucks and buses and 1,800 hybrid trucks and buses – and additional funding is on the way.
  10. Denso investing in algae biofuels: Denso Corp., a major supplier of fuel injectors, air conditioners and electronics to Toyota and other OEMs, is getting into the algae biofuels space. The company will open a cultivation and testing center in April in Japan that will have three oval ponds for growing algae. The company has been working on microalgae test projects since 2008, and sees the biofuel as an excellent option to reduce dependence on petroleum products and carbon emissions. Fans of the fuel say it beats corn ethanol in several ways.
  • Plus breaking news from Automotive News: “A group of deep-pocketed China-based internet entrepreneurs and financial investors, including Tencent and Hillhouse Capital, is backing an effort to create NextEV, a new rival to U.S. electric car maker Tesla Motors Inc…….”

Research studies dig into the minds of green car drivers

green car shoppersAs a Toyota Prius owner living in Southern California, I’ve been invited a few times to share my opinions on the driving experience. I’ve participated in two onsite studies that have included walking around car displays and answering questions from different viewing angles; and sitting among other vehicle owners and responding to touch-screen survey questions. The research studies have been focused on owners of plug-in electric, hybrid, and fuel-efficient cars (like the Smart Fortwo). They appear to be funded by automakers looking for consumer feedback to refine their marketing campaigns.

In this year of declining plug-in and hybrid sales (and small cars losing share to pickups and SUVs), there’s been a lot of interest in exploring ways to reach consumers.  An study earlier this year looked at how hybrid and electric vehicle owners have been trading in their cars for SUVs at a high rate this year as gasoline prices stay down. Beyond today’s fuel prices, there are other motivating purchase factors that automakers are taking seriously – as are companies in other industries such as solar power and consumer household products.

A special report released last week by research firm Shelton Group delved into what’s working in reaching consumers with an interest in green products – marketing buzzwords that are effective with consumers. It’s been interesting to view the study’s findings, and to have first-hand experience with how market research firms are structuring their studies for automaker clients.

One study that I participated in recently delved into future vehicle purchase considerations, and why we chose the vehicles we’re driving now. The study focused on small-to-midsize cars; and small-to-compact multipurpose, sport utility, and crossover vehicles. For clarification in the questionnaire, vehicles like the Honda Fit, Toyota Prius, Chevrolet Volt, Kia Soul, and Ford C-Max were used as examples in various vehicle categories. As for OEM brands, Chevrolet, Ford, Nissan, Toyota, and Volkswagen received most of the focus. Tesla Model S owners/lessors were included in the studies, but the studies do seem to be more focused on major OEMs competing with each other.

As for how owners chose these vehicles, and what we’re considering for the next one, key themes in the survey questions have been:

  • The latest and best vehicle technologies
  • Willingness to pay a premium for vehicles friendly to the environment
  • Advanced connectivity features like Bluetooth, telematics, Wifi hotspots, etc.
  • Strong fuel economy
  • Alternative technologies like hybrids and electric vehicles

Shelton Group just completed its eighth annual Eco Pulse study of American consumers, and this year delved into a topic critical to communications strategy: the effectiveness of green jargon. Words and phrases included in there study were:

  • Green
  • Eco-friendly
  • Sustainable
  • Recyclable
  • Recycled
  • Renewable
  • Compostable
  • Biodegradable
  • Low carbon footprint
  • Net zero
  • Low-VOC (Volatile Organic Compound)

“Green,” “Eco-friendly,” and “Sustainable” were the strongest performers. “Green” goes back to the early days of environmental policies in the 1970s; “Eco-friendly,” started popping up in the late 1980s; and “Sustainable” has deep roots in the environmental movement, particularly with agriculture, but it’s become the leading terms in recent years – enough to make it to Ad Age’s “jargoniest jargon” list in 2010.

“Eco-friendly” did slightly better than “Green” in the study, though not significantly so. Both words performed well with Democrats and Republicans. “Sustainable” was slightly less impressive than the other two, but has been considered even more politically neutral than the other two. All three of them are considered to have a strong association with better health, though green hasn’t changed its reputation for being more expensive than other products.

This Week’s Top 10: Is Apple jumping into the autonomous EV space? Tesla revamping stores to prep for Model X

by Jon LeSage, editor and publisher, Green Auto Market

Here’s my take on the 10 most significant and interesting occurrences during the past week…….

  1. Apple Project TitanIs Apple jumping into the autonomous vehicle space, and how about electric vehicles?  Jamie Carlson, former “Autopilot Firmware Manager” at Tesla Motors, joined Apple this month to work on a special projects team at the company according to his LinkedIn profile. What about Project Titan, the code name for Apple’s electric vehicle program? Apple won’t make an official statement about entering the car business, but it has hired several people with impressive autonomous vehicle backgrounds. Along with Carlson, colleagues at Apple include Megan McClain, a former Volkswagen engineer with expertise in automated driving; graduate researcher Vinay Palkkode who came from Carnegie Mellon, and Paul Furgale, the former deputy director of the Autonomous Systems Lab at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. Driverless car testing (including what Apple will likely be doing at the GoMentum Station in Concord, Calif.) is on the minds of many these days, including Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche – and it could indicate that Apple and Google are setting themselves up to be technology partners with major OEMs, not necessarily following Tesla into the incredibly costly vehicle manufacturing space. “Google and Apple want to provide system software for cars and bring this entire ecosystem around Apple and Google into the vehicle,” Zetsche said. “That can be interesting for both sides.”
  2. Tesla Motors revamping stores: Tesla will be remodeling its retail stores soon to coincide with the upcoming launch its Model X electric SUV. So far it’s only through one of its stores in San Jose, Calif., where visitors get to see interactive displays built around four major themes: safety, autopilot features, Tesla’s charging network, and the dual motors that power each axle. Tesla will have more cash reserves than expected to pay for these and other projects; its secondary stock sales brought proceeds up to an estimated $738.3 million – well over the $642.5 million the company announced that it needed to raise last week. Tesla sold 3.1 million shares at $242 each to give itself a cash cushion as it prepares to begin deliveries of its Model X. In other news, Tesla announced that it will be installing charging stations at 30 West Coast hotel properties managed by Airbnb Inc. Tesla says these are “high-end” Airbnb properties that come through Airbnb’s “shared economy” model (similar to Uber and other ridesharing companies and Car2Go and other carsharing services) where property owners rent out house space to customers.
  3. Ford of Europe COO working with Chinese company: Former COO of Ford Europe Martin Leach is now working for a new electric car manufacturer based mainly in China and California. Leach is recruiting staff for the company but declined to name his new employer; he says that the company doesn’t have a background in the auto industry. The new automaker will start out making electric vehicles and may eventually produce autonomous vehicles, he said. Enhancements in battery technology that will extend range, and government incentives, are setting up a viable market – especially in Chia, Leach said.
  4. Connecticut’s big ideas for EV incentives: Connecticut is taking on California to become the cutting-edge electric vehicle (EV) incentive state. In May, “cash-on-the-hood” rebates for EVs showed up, making it the first state to go with the cash incentive model. “We’re a small state, but we have some big ideas, and maybe we can show California how to do this” by using automaker-style customer rebates, said Jim Fleming, president of the Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association in Hartford. The Connecticut Hydrogen and Electric Automobile Purchase Rebate (CHEAPR) program has set aside $1 million for rebates from $750 to $3,000 per electrified vehicle, depending on battery size. The rebates are on top of a $2,500 to $7,500 federal tax credit for the vehicles. There is a way to go in catching up with other states in funding the incentives – so far, only a small part of the $1 million fund is set aside for dealer cash.
  5. Carsharing Potential in NYC: Could carsharing services from Car2go and its competitors such as Zipcar actually replace taxis and subway rides? A Crains New York article ponders the question. It may also involve tiny, nimble cars like the Smart cars being used in the Car2go fleet. The challenges and opportunities for Car2go are there, according to the article: Buses are too slow, subway lines can require long routes, and cabs and Uber rides can quickly get expensive. Customers can locate, reserve and open rides on Car2go’s Smart cars with a mobile app, which means the carsharing company could complement the transit system and help fill a hole in the way people get the city.
  6. GM investing in Chinese factory: A General Motors join venture in China will be investing about 3 billion yuan, or $470 million, to build “new energy vehicles” for plug-in vehicles and hybrid cars. SAIC-GM-Wuling, a three-way joint venture with SAIC Motor Corp Ltd, GM, and Wuling Motors Holdings Ltd, began construction of the plant last week in the province of Guangxi. That’s coming from the Chinese government’s mandate for automakers to reduce air pollution in cities.
  7. New study on EV battery leaders: Panasonic is the market leader in the battery market for electric vehicles, but LG Chem has the potential to overtake Panasonic in what will be a $30 billion market in 2020, according to a new study from Lux Research. Panasonic has nearly 40 percent of the share but its dependence on a single deal with Tesla Motors makes the company vulnerable. LG Chem has a strong client list that includes GM, Volkswagen, Daimler, and Ford.
  8. New study on autonomous vehicles: Navigant Research estimates that 85 million autonomous-capable vehicles are expected to be sold annually around the world by 2035. How many of these will be used as fully automated vehicles? Navigant is being vague about it, as are other transportation forecasters. The study focuses on the semi-autonomous technologies already being deployed in new vehicles, such as cruise control on freeways and navigation systems for safely navigating traffic jams. Installing multiple sensors will increase that capability.
  9. Prius global sales: The Toyota Prius has surpassed another milestone – seven million units have been sold globally since it was launched in 1997. The Prius has made up the lion’s share of Toyota and Lexus hybrid sales – eight million hybrids have been sold globally with seven million being Priuses. Hybrid models vary outside the U.S., including a Yaris Hybrid sold in Europe and the Crown Royal Saloon Hybrid sold in Japan. Outside the U.S., models vary from a Yaris Hybrid sold in Europe to the Crown Royal Saloon Hybrid, a big rear-wheel drive luxury sedan sold in Japan.
  10. Dealing with aging hybrid batteries: Toyota and Honda hybrids have been on US roads for the past 15 years, and many of them need service or replacement to stay on roads. Owners are facing decisions over which of the 3 Rs they want to choose for their battery packs – reuse, repurpose, or recycle. EV World profiled GreenTec Autos, which has been positioning itself as a leader in the field. The company has 11 locations in the US from the West Coast to the Northeast, with a service center in Kansas City. GreenTech Auto also offers a mobile operation to service hybrid vehicles.

Proposed EPA rules on cutting methane emissions from natural gas present challenges and opportunities to the transportation fuel

natural gas vehicle fueling stationLast week’s proposed standards by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on cutting methane emissions from oil and gas by 40% to 45% from 2012 levels by 2025 will eventually have an impact on natural gas vehicles and fueling infrastructure. For those tracking the impact of natural gas in the US economy, transportation fuel, and electricity generation, legal and legislative battles have become pervasive in the U.S. at the state level; there’s been a lot of pressure on the Obama administration to issue clear national standards on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and methane emissions governing the oil and gas industry.

The Obama administration is remaining committed to natural gas as a clean, domestic energy source,  but expects it to align with overarching plans on clean energy; which the electric power industry is going through right now with the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. How natural gas is extracted and delivered to end users has become a pressing issue for the federal government to face. “Cleaner-burning energy sources like natural gas are key compliance options for our Clean Power Plan and we are committed to ensuring safe and responsible production that supports a robust clean energy economy,” said Gina McCarthy, EPA administrator, about the proposed oil and gas rules.

Here’s an overview of the proposed rules and how they may affect the natural gas industry:

  • The proposed EPA standards would deal with finding and repairing leaks; capturing natural gas from the completion of fracked oil wells; limiting emissions from new and modified pneumatic pumps; and limiting emissions from several types of equipment used at natural gas transmission compressor stations, including compressors and pneumatic controllers.
  • The EPA says the proposed standards will complement voluntary efforts, including the Methane Challenge Program, and are based on practices and technology currently used by industry. It would complement programs made during the last 20 years through the successful Natural Gas STAR Program, while significant opportunities remain to reduce methane emissions, improve air quality, and capture and monetize this valuable energy resource.
  • In related news, seven oil and gas businesses have committed to reduce their methane emissions and back the United Nation’s campaign for a global standard for controlling emissions from oil and gas infrastructure. BG Group, ENI, PEMEX, PTT, Southwestern Energy, Statoil, and Total submitted pledges for reducing methane output through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) Non-State Actor Zone for Climate Action (NAZCA) portal.
  • The EPA’s proposed rules for the oil and gas industry could address concerns over methane leaks producing a lot more greenhouse gas emissions. A study last year by scientists at Stanford University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory raised concerns over benefits gained by the transportation fuel. The study found that methane leaks negate the climate change benefits of using natural gas as a transportation fuel.
  • The “Rethink Methane” conference held in Sacramento, Calif., on June 9-10, explored the potential of renewable natural gas (RNG) and power-to-gas in transportation and energy. Speakers looked at the challenges and opportunities of how biogas can help California meetings climate protection and air quality improvement goals and strengthen the state’s economic future. Energy Vision, a nonprofit advocacy group, has been following how states like New York are adopting similar policies on RNG as a transportation fuel and on the potential benefits of organic waste.
  • Next month’s NGVAmerica annual conference will host workshops on how natural gas is being addressed in environmental regulations and in government funding programs. The federal Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E) is holding its MOVE Program Review, an invitation-only conference, Sept. 14-15 in Denver. MOVE is the Methane Opportunities for Vehicular Energy initiative overseen by ARPA-E; it will be followed immediately by the 2015 North American Natural Gas Vehicle Conference & Expo hosted by NGVAmerica in Denver, which is taking place Sept. 15-17. ARPA-E awarded $30 million to 13 organizations under the MOVE initiative in mid-2012. Nine of the projects addressed the challenge of storing natural gas onboard a vehicle, and four of the projects were for development of home fueling equipment.
  • “GHGs and Climate Change: NGVs and the Road Toward a Sustainable Future” will take place during the NGVAmerica conference and will feature Todd Campbell, VP, Public Policy & Regulatory Affairs, Clean Energy Fuels Corp., and Kathryn Clay, Vice President, American Gas Association. They’ll be discussing how the growing focus on climate change and greenhouse gas emissions could affect policies and regulations for natural gas vehicles. The discussion also will address the potential of RNG and its role in the future growth of the natural gas vehicle market.


This Week’s Top 10: More details released on the future of Fisker Automotive, Apple wants to test autonomous vehicles

by Jon LeSage, editor and publisher, Green Auto Market

Here’s my take on the 10 most significant and interesting occurrences during the past week…….

  1. Fisker Karma factoryThe future of Fisker: More details are being released on Fisker Automotive, which has been on the sidelines since 2012. The revived automaker, owned by Chinese auto parts giant Wanxiang, just signed an 11-year lease deal estimated to be worth about $30 million. Fisker will be opening a production plant in Moreno Valley, Calif., about 60 miles from its corporate office in Costa Mesa. The 556,000 square-foot industrial building is expected to create 150 new jobs, and will be the first Southern California vehicle manufacturing facility since General Motors shuttered its Van Nuys plant in 1992. The city of Morena Valley said that Fisker also plans to feature a showroom and guided tours at the facility. Fisker Karmas had been produced by Valmet Automotive in Finland; the luxury plug-in sports car was expected to be manufactured at a former General Motors plant in Delaware, but that plan fell apart with Fisker’s financial collapse and bankruptcy. Details haven’t come out yet on the 2016 relaunch of the Karma, which went on hold in 2012.
  2. Apple wants to test self-driving cars: Apple may be testing self-driving cars at the former Concord Naval Weapons Station in Concord, Calif., which is now called the GoMentum Station. That 2,100-acre facility northeast of San Francisco has more than 20 miles of paved roads, city streets, railroad crossing and tunnels; GoMentum has been utilized by both Honda and Mercedes-Benz to test out their autonomous vehicle projects. Apple engineers from the company’s Special Projects group have been in contact with representatives of GoMentum Station, according to a report in British newspaper The Guardian. Apple is continuing to show signs of taking autonomous vehicles seriously, and it may coincide with R&D on electric vehicles. It may be Project Titan, the code name for the company’s electric vehicle program.
  3. Fleet operators open to stricter fuel economy standards: A new study on truck fuel efficiency conducted by CALSTART and NAFA found that fleet operators believe they will benefit from cost savings from fuel efficient commercial trucks. The study found that 87% of fleet operators surveyed would support more aggressive regulations on truck fuel economy; and 89% are willing to pay a higher upfront cost for a more fuel-efficient commercial vehicle as long as they’ll see cost savings over the vehicle’s lifecycle. That higher cost could be paid off in as little as nine months, according to the study.
  4. Urban mobility solutions from Ford: Finding safe, clean, and mobile transportation opportunities in our fast-growing urban settings is the source of many studies and projects these days (with the Brookings Institution finding that urban truck traffic growth is happening faster than urban population growth). Ford’s President and CEO Mark Fields announced three new alternative transportation projects that the company is testing out: Peer-2-Peer Car-Sharing, a pilot program for select customers in six U.S. cities and in London; Multimodal Urban Mobility, an experiment focusing on the many types of transportation used in urban environments. One of these options that Ford is trying out is the new MoDe:Flex, a concept eBike design; and GoDrive, an on-demand carsharing pilot for one-way trips in London with a pay-as-you-go approach and guaranteed parking. What are the benefits of going these routes? Ford says that they will bring more cost-effective commutes, an uptick in multimodal transportation, less congestion and happier drivers.
  5. Tesla selling stock: Tesla Motors Inc. plans to raise about $642.5 million through selling more of its stock on the market – up from $500 million from its previous announcement days earlier. That will be about 2.1 million shares of the company. One analyst expects that this offering and its existing credit lines will offer enough cash for operations into 2016. The company burned through $359 million in cash during the second quarter as it expands its auto and energy storage businesses. The Gigafactory in Nevada is seeing a lot of that capital as Tesla prepares to make efficient batteries for its upcoming Model 3 electric car. The capital drain could go away for Tesla if an outrageous forecast by Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas turns out to be accurate. Jonas thinks that Tesla will go from around $280 (though its currently about $243) up to $465 in stock price. He’s basing this assumption of Tesla stock nearly doubling in price on a concept that the company may be rolling out called Tesla Mobility, an app-based on-demand mobility service utilizing semi-autonomous vehicles.
  6. Renewable diesel seeing big gains: Propel Fuels is now offering Diesel HPR (High Performance Renewable) at locations across Southern California. Utilizing Neste’s NEXBTL renewable diesel, Propel’s Diesel HPR is a low-carbon, renewable fuel that meets petroleum diesel specifications and can be used in any diesel engine. Fleets and consumers choosing Diesel HPR realize the benefits of better performance, significant reductions in greenhouse gases, and improved local air quality. Propel Fuels’ announcement comes not long after companies committed to the clean fuel: UPS will be purchasing 46 million gallons of renewable diesel (RD); FedEx will be buying three million gallons of RD per year; the City of San Francisco will be going to 100% RD by the end of the year; and Google is switching its bus fleet to RD.
  7. GM and Honda’s fuel cell project: Charlie Freese, GM’s head of global fuel cell engineering, has been very enthusiastic about GM’s hydrogen fuel cell partnership with Honda that started two years ago. The Next generation fuel cell stack is running in their laboratory now that is down almost a half in weight and size, and the cost is dropping down. He says that the two OEMs forged the alliance to standardize parts and get the volume up, which you can’t do alone very easily.
  8. Nissan working with Enterprise on college carsharing: Nissan has teamed up with car rental giant Enterprise on a new carsharing service. Enterprise CarShare will be going to 90 college campuses around the country for a rental fee of $5 an hour. For now, Nissan will be supplying 300 vehicles, with up to 25 going onto some of the campuses. Carsharing competitor Zipcar has been moving on campus in the past couple of years, and recently worked with Ford on bringing carsharing to six US cities and London; Ford has tested its own campus program.
  9. Natural gas incentives: The Natural Gas Vehicle Incentive Project, funded by California Energy Commission (CEC), started up earlier this month is being administered for CEC by the Institute of Transportation Studies, at UC Irvine. Incentives range from $1,000 for the lightest natural gas vehicles to $25,000 for NGVs with a gross vehicle weight in excess of 33,001 pounds; the project has $10,187,000 available in funding on a “first-come, first-served basis.” Eligible vehicles need to be new (model year 2014 or later), listed in CARB’s Certification Program, and must be registered and operated on natural gas in California (at least 90% of the time) for at least three years.
  10. Wireless charging could be here soon: Wireless electric vehicle (EV) charging could make it to the commercial level as early as 2017 with luxury EVs being first to adopt them, according to a study by Strategy Analytics. They’ll probably be an option available on for a fairly high price and limited to mainly luxury auto brands (Tesla, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac…..?) when launching in 2017, according to Strategy Analytics. The same issue is there for wireless as for plug-in – for them to be interoperable and able to work across different brands of EVs and charging networks.

How to increase interest in used electric vehicles with car shoppers

Chevy Volt at dealershipPlug-in electric vehicles are getting hit with depreciation of their resale values. Many of these electric vehicles (EVs) are coming off lease this year, which presents a real challenge for manufacturers’ finance arms and other financial institutions who wrote the leases. It’s also affecting consumers who purchased the EVs and might be trading them in at a dealership or selling them to private parties; it’s also tough for retailers (dealers) who own these cars, through trade ins or buying them at auctions, and want to sell them at a decent profit margin. NADA Used Car Guide and Black Book are seeing those trends and have reported on it last week. The Tesla Model S is holding its value on the market, but other EVs are vulnerable. For owners of used EVs looking at their options, market research and consulting firm Morpace has asked electric vehicle owners for tips on how to move the metal.

NADA Used Car Guide’s Larry Dixon thinks that used vehicle buyers tend to lean more toward frugality than new vehicle shoppers. With that, concerns over upfront cost and long-term durability are more amplified. Black Book’s Anil Goyal sees gasoline prices as the key driver. “Smaller cars have experienced heavier depreciation over the last 12-18 months, but it’s clear that the small mainstream electric vehicles are experiencing even heavier valuation drops,” Goyal said in a Black Book commentary.

Current electric vehicle (EV) owners interviewed by Morpace are passionate about their plug-in cars, but are not too interested in buying a used one according to an analysis piece by Eric Roach, research director at Morpace. Buying a new EV is more likely for them. Morpace presented questions to its MyDrivingPower community, which is comprised of more than 250 U.S.-based EV owners. They did have a lot to say in suggestions to automakers and dealers on what they can do to make used EVs stronger in the market:

Educate dealer staff with their own driving experience – One way to improve their credibility about EV knowledge suggested by respondents was that sales staff actually drive the vehicles themselves to become familiar with the product. Knowledge and some level of expertise on EVs is expected to come from the dealership and the people who are selling them.
Provide a warranty on the battery or replace it – To deal with concerns over expensive battery packs, replacement or a 5-6 year warranty on the battery was suggested. This warranty would be expected to cover replacement costs, repairs, and guarantee a minimum battery range per charge. It would work best if the dealer is seen to be transparent, proactive, and straight forward about the battery and range for consumers to consider buying a used EV.
Report charge cycles – EV owners want to know more about battery lifecycle, and they see the need for an indicator that provides the number of times a battery has been charged to date (equivalent to mileage on an internal combustion engine). Survey respondents think that more consumer confidence in used EVs would be supported by knowing the total number of cycles on the life of the battery and the number of cells still remaining.

This Week’s Top 10: Highlights from CAR Management Briefing Seminars, Tesla guards against hackers

by Jon LeSage, editor and publisher, Green Auto Market 

Here’s my take on the 10 most significant and interesting occurrences during the past week…….

  1. Chris Grundler at CAR conference 2015CAR Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City: While a huge storm postponed the start of CAR Management Briefing Seminars last week in Traverse City, Mich., things got underway later that day for the 50th annual thought leadership event. Here are some of the highlights from what’s considered to be the most important annual conference for automotive executives…….
  • The practicality of US and California fuel efficiency and emissions rules set off a heated debate in Traverse City. Automakers are struggling to meet California’s demand to see 15% of new vehicle sales be zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) by 2025, according to executives of two major automotive lobby groups. Diarmuid O’Connell, vice president of business development at Tesla Motors, made the opposite argument. California and the nine other states that have adopted the ZEV policy should make the rules tougher. Tesla profits from selling the ZEV credits to other automakers who aren’t hitting those targets.
  • Chris Grundler, director of the EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality (and featured in the photo above), said that the federal agency has not already set in stone the 4 mpg mandate for corporate average fuel economy. That will be determined by April 2018 after a review in 2017 and 2018. Issues such as fuel process and acceptance of new technologies will be reviewed; and the EPA administrator will make the final decision and will for the next president, Gundler said.
  • Ford Motor Co. was the winner of the 3rd annual Altair Enlighten Award for its use of various lightweighting materials in the 2015 Ford F-150. The award is given out by Altair and the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) and was created to acknowledge innovation in vehicle weight reduction. Ford was named the winner for taking 700 pounds off of the Ford F-150 while improving its performance, safety, and fuel efficiency.
  • China is seeing the manufacturing of a high volume of electric vehicles – 84,700 battery electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles last year; and up 83,100 units in the first six months of 2015, according to Yonghe Huang, director of policy research at the China Automotive Technology Center. Challenges prevail, including a lack of public charging stations, a limited number of garages for parking the cars, and not enough demand to sell all these electric vehicles. Air pollution in its major, developing cities and abundant government incentives are spurring the production volumes. Automakers are skeptical about whether all of this will work as sales have been soft; even Tesla Motors has been struggling to get the ball rolling, as indicated by its recent Chinese management turnover right after sales objectives were not met.
  • Using modular parts is dramatically reducing costs for batteries, motors, and other components in General Motors’ six electrified cars, said Pam Fletcher, GM’s executive chief engineer for electrified vehicles, during one of the management briefing seminars. All of these vehicles – the Chevrolet Bolt, Volt, Spark EV and Malibu Hybrid and the Cadillac ELR and CT6 PHEV – share powertrain components and technologies, Fletcher said. For example, the gasoline-electric powertrain in the upcoming Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid is nearly identical to that of the 2016 Chevrolet Volt. Editor’s Note: Ramping up to reach economies of scale and bring down production costs, leveraging its marketing muscle, and retailing through its dealer networks are other benefits that GM holds over small, startup electric vehicle manufacturers.
  1. Tesla guards against hackers: Cybersecurity researchers found they could take control of a Tesla Model S in a test project in one of six ways that need to be corrected. Tesla sent out a software patch to address the security flaws and protect Model S owners and the general public from hackers. Cybersecurity firm Lookout and technology company Cloudflare decided to hack a Tesla car because the company has a reputation for understanding software that is better than that of most automakers, they said. Tesla chief technology officer JB Straubel appeared at the Def Con annual hacker convention last week in Las Vegas to thank the researchers who uncovered vulnerabilities in Model S electric car software. Straubel also announced a hike in Tesla’s hacking bounty to $10,000.
  2. EV sales in July: Tesla Model S was the clear leader in plug-in sales during the month of July, while the Chevrolet Volt increased to the second position and the Nissan Leaf fell back to No. 3. The BMW i3 had a strong month with a 70% sales increase over June and about 157% higher than a year earlier. Overall, U.S. plug-in sales were down 13.5% from the previous month and 21.4% from a year ago. Editor’s Note: See this week’s feature, “Sales are soft, but OEMs aren’t giving up on zero emission vehicles” for analysis of what’s ahead for green car sales.
  3. Stop-start technologies seeing major growth: Chicago-based research firm Navigant Consulting predicts that 35% of new vehicles sold in North America will have stop-start systems, up from 10% this year. It’s part of automakers moving forward on hitting the federal government’s 54.5 mpg by 2025 target. The stop-start system shuts off the vehicle’s engine when it comes to a stop, and then restarts the engine when the driver takes his or her foot off the brake.
  4. Mike Calise leading Car Charging Group: Car Charging Group, Inc., a publicly traded supplier of electric vehicle charging services, has named Mike Calise as CEO; Michael Farkas will continue to service as board chairman and Chief Visionary Officer. Calise most recently served as Head of North America EV Solutions at Schneider Electric; prior to that, he was founder of EVadvise, a consulting firm focused on mass scale electric vehicle infrastructure, where he developed the EV Charging infrastructure technology plan for Marin Transportation Authority’s countywide charger deployment as well as others.
  5. Clean Power Plan increases goals: The Obama Administration has released the final version of the Clean Power Plan, which raised the bar on cutting carbon pollution from electric power plants to 32% from the initial 30% target. There has been some increased flexibility in the new plan – they must comply by 2022 instead of 2020 and the emissions reductions are phased in on a “gradual glide path” to 2030. The final Clean Power Plan also gives states more flexibility to meet the ambitious carbon standards: they must comply by 2022 instead of 2020 and the emission reductions are phased in on a “gradual glide path” to 2030. On Friday, 365 companies and investors including General Mills, Mars, Nestle, Staples, Unilever and VF Corporation sent letters voicing their support for the plan and encouraged states to release “timely finalization” of state implementation plans to meet the new standards. The National Association of Manufacturers said the rule will threaten manufacturers’ competitiveness and drive up electricity costs.
  6. What EV owners think: Ford Motor Co. recently surveyed 10,000 electric vehicle (EV) owners in the US to gain understanding of their perceptions. Overall, EV owners love their vehicles and smart phone applications; 83% will consider, or already have installed, solar power to charge their vehicles at home to reduce emissions and save money; 92% of battery electric and 94% of plug-in hybrid drivers plan to purchase another EV in the future; EV owners use smart phone apps regularly and want to see vehicle health alerts, public charging station locators, charging time indicators, and reserving and paying for charging functions. About half of plug-in hybrid drivers and more than a quarter of battery electric drivers are using conventional outlets (120/110 volt) to charge at home; 88% of EV drivers would like to have a fast charger installed at their home.
  7. Propane seeing a strong year: Sales of propane-powered fleet vehicles, and the propane needed to run them, are taking off this year. Propane prices are at a 13 year low and are 75% cheaper than diesel, along with bringing environmental gains of 12% less carbon dioxide than gasoline. The price differential is driven by a glut of propane coming from shale wells, with much of that coming out of the Marcellus field. ICF International Inc., a Fairfax, Virginia, consulting firm, expects U.S. sales of propane-powered vehicles to reach 20,000 units this year, a 35% jump over 2014, and slightly higher than what’s expected to be seen in fleet purchases of natural gas vehicles this year.
  8. Tesla quarterly earnings good or bad?: During its quarterly earnings call last week, Tesla Motors said that its energy storage products are taking off in customer orders while the company also downsized its prediction for electric car sales this year – from 55,000 to around 50,000. CEO Elon Musk thinks it will be “quite a challenging production ramp” to deliver a realistic number of soon-to-be launched Model X units at the quality level the company wants to meet. The company reported $1.2 billion in Q2 revenue, up from $857.5 million a year ago. Fortune analyst John Kell thinks it’s all much worse than Tesla reported. Kell wrote that Tesla is losing more than $4,000 on every Model S it sells. The analysis goes to Tesla burning through $359 million in cash last quarter. Tesla had just $1.15 billion on hand as of June 30, down from $2.67 billion a year earlier. Tesla reported that the $359 million was spent on expanding capacity at its Fremont, Calif., plant to make room for the Model X; and for construction costs at the Gigafactory in Nevada.
  9. Hyundai and Kia jumping into electrified sector: Hyundai will be expanding its green car offerings through its Hyundai and Kia brands. Along with the Tucson hydrogen model, Hyundai and Kia may be launching four hybrid models, two plug-in hybrids, and one battery electric car between the 2016 and 2018 model years, according to sources familiar with the company. The hybrids may be built on the compact-car platform that will be used in the next-generation Hyundai Elantra and Kia Forte. The hybrids would be powered by a direct-injected 1.6L gasoline engine paired with an electric motor. The Kia might end up being designed as a crossover, and the Hyundai as a liftback sedan similar to the Chevrolet Volt.

Sales are soft, but OEMs aren’t giving up on zero emission vehicles

EV sales through 2015As reported lately in Green Auto Market and several major media sources, it’s been a tough year for green car sales. Hybrid sales were down 18.5% in the first half of this year compared to last year. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles had it much worse – plunging 33.7% versus a year ago. Battery electric vehicles have bucked the trend, with the Tesla Model S, Mercedes B-Class Electric, and the BMW i3 doing well in July. Sales increases reported by Tesla haven’t been enough to lighten the mood.

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, especially the upcoming Toyota Mirai, are getting much attention this year and impressing some with California’s (and other states’) commitment to zero emission vehicles (ZEVS). The numbers aren’t there yet in hydrogen fueling stations or car sales. Hyundai has sold just 17 Tucson FCVs this year in the U.S. Toyota is investing a lot into its upcoming Mirai FCV. Pre-orders are being placed now for deliveries starting this fall.

For electric vehicles, there’s been concern that federal and state incentives need to increase to gain more sales appeal. The July total, only one-third of last year’s sales, may reflect the June 30th end of Georgia’s generous income-tax credit for purchasing ZEVs in the state.

Then there’s the overall economic climate. Sales started softening in June and continued into July, with low gasoline prices and cheap small cars and crossovers with strong fuel economy driving much of the interest.

That being said, automakers don’t appear to be backing away from launching all-new or revamped versions of their plug-in electric vehicles or fuel-cell vehicles. For example, Nissan, BMW, General Motors, and Tesla don’t appear to be backing down under the current market dynamics.

Sales have dropped quite a bit for the Nissan Leaf, with a seven-month total this year of 10,990, one-third less than the 15,755 Leafs sold in the first seven months of 2014. Some of this likely has to do with a refreshed Leaf coming out in the 2016 model year, with a battery range that could be 25% higher. There’s talk out there that Nissan may go the way of the 2012 Toyota Prius family, with more versions of the Leaf rolling out in 2016 or 2017. One of these might be a crossover Leaf along with the five-door hatchback that you see now out on the road.

BMW CEO Harald Krueger has said that an electrified crossover will be coming out in the i Series. BMW may also add a big battery-electric SUV to its main brand in a direct challenge to the Tesla Model X sedan. BMW is also said to be looking into working with Apple on the new high-tech vehicle the technology giant wants to develop.

The Chevrolet Volt appears to be very much affected by a new model coming to dealerships this fall. In July, Chevrolet reported a year-to-date sales figure of 6,935 for 2015, versus 10,635 for the same period during 2014. Sales did increase to over 1,000 during the past three months, right after seeing four months of sales at less than 1,000 units. General Motors and its Chevrolet dealers may have been aggressively attempting to sell off the 2015 models before the 2016 model gets closer to coming to market.

The Volt may be going up to 53 miles on battery power with the revamped model – 40% more in battery range than the current model. It will also have a more power engine and, for some models, a fifth “seating position” to increase its appeal.

Tesla Motors is counting on its Model X building up its global sales. During its second quarter earnings report, the company said that its full-year delivery forecast will be coming down from 55,000 to between 50,000 and 55,000. That may come from a delay in production of the Model X.

Tesla will manufacture the Model X on the same general assembly line as its Model S sedan at the factory in Fremont, Calif. That could could slow down overall production if there are problems that come up during the ramp-up of the new product, according to CEO Elon Musk. Seeing strong sales increases in the Model S has encouraged Tesla to increase its production. The automaker reported producing a record 12,807 vehicles in Q2, which beat its goal of 12,500 units.

One of the big hopes for plug-in sales is coming through more affordable cars with more miles between charges. Tesla is placing a lot of its strategic plan on rolling out its $35,000 Model 3 in 2017 (which will include advanced batteries being manufactured at the new Gigafactory in Nevada that will power the car for 200 miles on a single charge). General Motors has high hopes for the Chevrolet Bolt is expected to make it 200 miles on a charge and start at $30,000 when it rolls out in 2017. Tesla and GM are putting a lot of hope on these cars, which face the fundamental challenge all of these electrified vehicles must address:  getting more consumers to overcome concerns about investing in a new technology.


This Week’s Top 10: Hackers could throw monkey wrench into autonomous vehicles, New developments in Washington

by Jon LeSage, editor and publisher, Green Auto Market 

Here’s my take on the 10 most significant and interesting occurrences during the past week…….

  1. FCA dealing with hackersFCA cyber security vehicle recall: When it comes to following autonomous vehicles/self-driving cars, concerns are typically raised about liability issues after accidents, personal privacy, and acceptance of the technologies by car owners. There is an even bigger issue that will have to be addressed by automakers, technology suppliers (especially Google), DMVs, and NHTSA: cyber security. FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) is going through a major recall now of 1.4 million vehicles that was spurred by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s concerns over a Uconnect radio system made by Harman International Industries – and which has also been placed in other vehicles by other automakers. Hackers are likely to find the challenge too big and exciting to set aside; that was the case with a Jeep Cherokee that ended up running into a ditch because of game playing by hackers. That was a safe and legal event recently organized by to see if hackers could break through the security wall. Last week, a researcher warned of another potential security breach: hackers could exploit a security flaw in a mobile app for General Motors’ OnStar vehicle communications system. A new survey by Kelley Blue Book indicates consumers are very concerned about how vulnerable they are in today’s connected cars. Automakers are investing a lot of capital and resources into connected vehicles, which they believe is the transition channel over to semi-autonomous and fully automated vehicles in the next 10 years. BMW, Audi, and Mercedes have made a $2.8 billion bid to buy Nokia’s next-gen mapping business; and Apple may work with BMW to bring a customized, autonomous version of the electric BMW i3 to market. My suggestion to the industry would be to send your staff to hackathon competitions in Silicon Valley and offer high-paying jobs to the winners.
  2. New developments in Washington: Two legislative items moved ahead Thursday in the U.S. Senate. The Vehicle Innovation Act reauthorizes the Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Program (authorizing $313.6 million in funding for the next budget year, and a 4% increase annually through 2020), which promotes partnerships to conduct research and development to improve fuel efficiency in vehicles. The Act promotes investments in research and development of cleaner vehicle and advanced safety technologies that will create more fuel-efficient vehicles. It was included in the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015 approved by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. On the House of Representative side, President Obama has signed into law H.R.3236, whose many highway funding provisions include a measure meant to ensure that liquefied natural gas (LNG) and propane autogas are taxed fairly relative to diesel and gasoline. Natural gas vehicle industry association NGVAmerica says the passage of H.R.3236 will permanently solidify the law’s alternative fuel measure; the association says that it will modify the federal highway excise taxes on LNG and autogas to be based on the fuels’ energy content, rather than on their volume.
  3. Uber enters auto finance: Ridesharing giant Uber has expanded its leasing program for drivers to have cars to transport passengers. It’s called Xchange Leasing and offers drivers more affordable leasing payments. It’s been impressive enough to bring in Cox Automotive and Westlake Financial Services and other companies into pilot programs. In other news, the Global Business Travel Association released results on a survey of business travelers and travel buyers, who say that one in four (24%) of travel buyers say their company does not allow their business travelers to use ride-sharing companies. Right now, 11% of business travelers are using ridesharing companies like Uber versus 36% using rental cars, 24% taking taxis, and 13% using chauffeured transportation. And in other Uber news, Uber just closed $1 billion in another round of funding from investors that include Microsoft; the company is valued at nearly $51 billion and is expected to go public.
  4. Major companies commit to reducing carbon: Thirteen large corporations (Alcoa, Apple, Bank of America, Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Cargill, Coca-Cola, General Motors, Goldman Sachs, Google, Microsoft, PepsiCo, UPS, and Walmart) have signed the White House’s American Business Act on Climate Pledge. These companies have committed to using “greener” fleets to help meet carbon footprint goals. In related news, UPS said it will buy 46 million gallons of renewable diesel over three years, 15 times greater than prior contracts, as the company seeks to further reduce carbon emissions. The fuels will be supplied to UPS by Finland-based Neste, Iowa-based Renewable Energy Group and San Francisco-based Solazym.
  5. PlugShare Guide launched: Recargo Inc. has introduced its PlugShare Guide, a new plug-in vehicle consulting service for the electric vehicle (EV) industry. PlugShare Guide will develop strategies, policies and plans for assessing, promoting, installing and managing EV infrastructure as well as strategies to accelerate EV adoption using the company’s rich market intelligence, proprietary research and analytical tools. PlugShare Guide’s initial project is with Pacific Gas & Electric to analyze and recommend a layout of fast charging infrastructure across the utility’s service area, in partnership with Energy + Environmental Economics (E3) and U.C. Davis.
  6. Work truck study: National Truck Equipment Association (NTEA) and its Green Truck Association (GTA) affiliate division, recently released the 2015 Work Truck Electrification and Idle Management Study, showcasing directional industry trends on commercial vehicle efficiency, system electrification, and idle reduction. The report offers practical insights into the fleet manager’s perspective on new truck electrification technologies and idle management, NTEA said.
  7. Cuba opens door to new vehicles: A lot of change is taking place in Cuba, including placing an order for 719 new cars for tourist rentals from China-based BYD. In other news from Latin America, BYD also reported the sale of ten 12-meter K9 battery-electric buses by BYD do Brasil for Campinas, in the state of São Paulo. Campinas will be the first city in Brazil with a fleet of fully battery electric, zero emission buses.
  8. New Plug In America exec: Joel Levin, former vice president of business development at the Climate Action Reserve, has been named executive director of Plug In America. An expert on U.S. and global carbon markets and California climate policy, Levin oversaw development of the Climate Action Reserve, the state-chartered nonprofit that runs North America’s largest carbon offset registry. “This year, Plug In America marks the tenth anniversary of our efforts to electrify transportation, and we look forward to expanding our efforts with Joel at the helm,” said Plug In America board president Michael Thwaite.
  9. CalCharge adds partners: CalCharge has added six new partners, including major players Toyota and German mega-supplier Bosch. Overall, 18 automakers, parts suppliers, and energy companies have joined the initiative – which has also teamed up with a number of national research labs. CalCharge pairs companies with three Bay Area national labs: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The main goal of CalCharge is to find ways to boost power, drop costs, and extend battery life.
  10. Qualcomm makes deal for wireless charging: Qualcomm has a new deal with Swiss electric car parts maker Brusa, allowing the firm to develop, manufacture, and supply its Halo charging plates to other companies. Qualcomm has fitted its Halo system of wireless, inductive chargers to Formula E course cars and other test vehicles. Wireless charging may be a long way’s out, but Qualcomm imagines a future in which these plates are as ubiquitous as Wi-Fi hotspots; that may include highway charging lanes, where electric can top up their batteries as they drive.

Event Planning: Clean transportation and advanced vehicle technologies conferences to consider attending

Clean transportation eventsWhile summer vacation is in the air, it’s time to start planning for events and conferences. Here are significant events in clean transportation and advanced vehicle technologies over the next year that I look forward to attending (or at least covering). The challenge will be attending all of them in September and October – some of them are back-to-back in scheduling. I will be moderating a speaker panel at

Sacramento Clean Cities Coalition’s 6th annual Fall stakeholder meeting on Oct. 15 where panelists will be discussing autonomous vehicles, intelligent highways, the Hyperloop, and carsharing services. I hope to see you there.

Fleet Technology Expo
August 24-26, 2015
Long Beach Convention Center
Long Beach, CA
Green Fleet Conference & Expo has been expanded into Fleet Technology Expo. This conference and exposition will feature the latest information on maintaining and adopting alternative fuels, maximizing data for efficient fleet management and best practices for heavy duty fleets.

North American Natural Gas Vehicle Conference & Expo
Sept. 15-17, 2015
The largest gathering of NGV industry professionals in North America is expected to feature more than 100 exhibitors, 1,000 attendees, and 70 speakers and panelists. Highlights include OEM technology, fuel cost savings, emissions reductions, fuel station infrastructure development plans, federal and state funding options as well as how natural gas is driving innovation and economic growth. Attendees can participate in a Ride & Drive and attend the 2015 NGV Achievement Awards celebrating innovation and leadership.

AltCar Expo
Sept. 18-19 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Santa Monica, Calif.
The 10th anniversary conference will feature NAFA (Pacific Southwest Chapter) workshops and the first annual ”Best Sustainability Awards Recognition Program.” Other speaker events on Friday will focus on autonomous vehicle technologies, Multi-unit dwelling (MUD) and workplace charging; a presentation on Saturday showing of trailer from the documentary “My Lunch With Obama”, followed by a Panel Discussion with the director, Kelly R. Olsen, the subject of the film, Paul Scott and some of the people that appear in the file. The discussion will first focus on what led Paul to be willing to pay $32,400 to speak to the President for two minutes about EV policy and the events that unfolded after he was accepted to the luncheon with the President.

Sacramento Clean Cities Coalition’s 2015 Clean Technologies Forum
Oct. 15, 2015
California Automobile Museum, Sacramento, Calif.
Details will be released soon on the sixth annual Fall stakeholder meeting for Sacramento Clean Cities Coalition. As mentioned, I’ll be moderating a panel of speakers for “The Future of Transportation Technology.” Experts on the topics will discuss autonomous vehicles, intelligent highways, the Hyperloop, carsharing services, and other advanced technology developments.

Meeting of the Minds 2015
Oct. 20-22, 2015
Berkeley and Richmond, Calif.
This leadership summit on smarter urban systems is being convened in the San Francisco Bay Area in October. Now in its 9th year, the annual summit brings together professionals for opportunities to think critically, ask questions, share tools, and build lasting partnerships — which make smarter and more sustainable cities possible. Meeting of the Minds 2015 is sponsored by Black & Veatch; Royal Bank of Canada; The Federal Reserve Bank of the US; Qualcomm; CBRE; Toyota; Cisco; Wells Fargo Bank; Microsoft; Itron; University of California, Berkeley; and others.

Telematics West Coast 2015
Oct. 26-27, 2015
San Diego, Calif.
Telematics Detroit (now called TU-Automotive Detroit) has expanded to the west coast with this San Diego event. Topics will include cyber security, big data, car communication systems, and Renovo Motors, the maker of the first all-electric American supercar. Christopher Heiser, CEO of Renovo Motors, will be one of the speakers. Automotive Digest Publisher Chuck Parker and I will be attending and interviewing executives; for those interested in scheduling an appointment, please email me. Along with the name change, away from telematics and into TU, the focus of these events is expanding: “Telematics, Autonomy, Mobility,” is how the TU-Automotive Detroit site is labelled.

High Horsepower Summit
Oct. 27-29, 2015
Dallas, TX
The HHP Summit presents natural gas as a solution to high horsepower equipment operators aiming to significantly reduce fuel costs, improve environmental performance, and comply with important air quality regulations. It’s managed by Gladstein Neandross & Associates, which organizes the annual ACT Expo conference.

Connected Car Expo
Nov. 17-19, 2015
Los Angeles
Connected Car Expo (CCE) at the LA Auto Show has grown enough in attendance to transition from its Los Angeles Convention Center space and will occupy virtually the entire JW Marriott at the adjacent L.A. Live entertainment complex. More than 25 speakers will be there from Apple, Microsoft, Intel, Qualcomm, Google, Volkswagen, Continental, Movimento, Redbend, J.D. Power, Pebble and other companies.  Selected by the CCE Advisory Board, this year’s conference topics focus on issues such as autonomous vehicles, car sharing, cybersecurity, 3D printing, over-the-air updates, and much more.

Long Beach ePrix
April 2, 2016
Long Beach, Calif.
The FIA (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile) World Motor Sport Council recently approved the calendar for the second season of the FIA Formula E Championship, with Long Beach scheduled as the sixth of 11 rounds in the Formula E series. Alejandro Agag, CEO of Formula E, said: “We’re very pleased for Formula E to be returning to Long Beach in 2016. Our first Californian ePrix was a fantastic success and brought a new generation of race fans to the iconic streets of Long Beach. We’re looking forward to building on this, as well as continuing to promote the message of sustainability so that California remains the number one market for plug-in electric vehicles.”

ACT Expo
May 2-5, 2016
Long Beach, CA
The largest clean transportation industry event will be returning to the Long Beach Convention Center next year. Details on the event will be released later this year.